IBS Speaker Series: Lessons from 2017 Hurricane Season in Dominica and Puerto Rico (lunch provided)

When: Monday, September 23rd 12:00 pm
Where: IBS 155B
Who: Fernando Briones (UCB - CIRES)

Title: Lessons from 2017 Hurricane Season in Dominica and Puerto Rico: an approach from Zero Order Responders (ZORs)

Abstract: The Hurricane Maria has left experiences to identify for developing better preparedness, response and recovery programs for future hazards; these include the understanding about how the affected people, the initial and final responders, face the emergency and recovery. A year after Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica and Puerto Rico; we did a field trip in both islands to document with the affected people testimonies of their actions to cope and survive during the emergency and the following months. Those conversations highlight that disasters are long-term social process and not just a temporary weather-related event. In other hand, more than just victims, the affected people should be considered as active actors in the prevention, response and recovery processes. In the case of Puerto Rico, some of the spontaneous actions that people developed in their communities could be taken as baseline for formal preparedness for disaster risk programs. Our approach, by the notion of Zero Order Responders or, ZORs (Briones, Vachon and Glantz, 2019) reflect people’s creativity for deal with immediate needs through social cohesion and resourcefulness. However, it also shows that recovery happens under specific contexts. In the case of Dominica, where the affected people (displaced into shelters) are still facing the consequences, the recovery “window” is getting closed; instead looking for coping mechanisms for recovery, they are dealing with an increase of their poverty conditions, feeding the social vulnerability circle.

Bio: Fernando Briones holds a PhD in social anthropology from the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales), Paris, France. Currently, he is a research associate at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR/CIRES) at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In Mexico, his native country, Fernando has been a researcher at the Centre for Research and Advanced Studies in Social Anthropology and a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the National Civil Protection; alongside this, he is a consultant, collaborator, and lecturer of international organizations. Briones’ work focuses on disaster risk reduction, the social impacts of disasters, the understanding of vulnerability, resilience, and the society-climate interface. Additionally, he considers photography as a straightforward and powerful way to document fieldwork. His research has developed primarily in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Central America, and the Caribbean.